Tech Briefs

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A comprehensive library of technical briefs from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories covering all aspects of innovations in electronics, software, photonics, imaging, motion control, automation, sensors, test, materials, manufacturing, mechanical, and mechatronics.

Briefs: Aerospace

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

For decades, mass spectrometers have offered a relatively fast and highly sensitive way to analyze and detect chemical compounds. But their bulky size has been a hindrance, limiting the in-field potential of the...

Briefs: Materials
Novel Radiation Shielding Material for Dramatically Extending the Orbit Life of CubeSats

NASA Langley Research Center has developed an innovative radiation shield made by layering metal materials in the Z-shielding method. It is a new, low-cost, and easy-to-implement method to protect CubeSat electronic circuits from ionizing radiation found in...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a breakthrough technology called Safeguard that can alleviate hazards with unmanned aircraft (UA) flying beyond their authorized perimeters and...

Briefs: Test & Measurement

Piezoelectric materials, which generate an electric current when compressed or stretched, are familiar and widely used; for example, lighters that spark when a switch is...

Briefs: Software
Technique Measures Temperature of 2D Materials at the Atomic Level

Newly developed two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene — which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms — have the potential to replace traditional microprocessing chips based on silicon, which have reached the limit of how small they can get. But engineers have...

Briefs: Materials

This technology uses extracts produced from yeast transformed with a new anti-UV DNA construct to block ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Briefs: Electronics & Computers

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, and while they represent a cleaner alternative to fossil-fueled vehicles, their increased use may stress the grid if this growing load is left unmanaged. A need...

Briefs: Medical

Much can be detected in blood or urine — viral illnesses, metabolic disorders, or autoimmune diseases can be diagnosed with laboratory tests, for instance. But such examinations often take a few...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Plastic Material Works as a Heat Conductor

Plastics are excellent insulators, meaning they can efficiently trap heat — a quality that can be an advantage in something like a coffee cup sleeve. But this insulating property is less desirable in products such as plastic casings for laptops and mobile phones that overheat, in part, because the...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Two-photon lithography (TPL), a high-resolution 3D printing technique, is capable of producing nanoscale features smaller than 1/100 the width of a human hair. The technique could enable X-ray...

Briefs: Energy

Water heaters and other thermal energy storage devices increase the temperature of a medium above an ambient or normal temperature, and store the warmer medium. Water heaters, in particular, must store...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable Bypass Turbofan Engine

Many aircraft need to operate efficiently at more than one flight regime; for example, certain airframes are expected to perform in relatively high-speed cruise modes, as well as slower loitering scenarios. Unfortunately, an engine operates most efficiently when the exit velocity closely matches the speed of the...

Briefs: Propulsion
New Methods in Preparing and Purifying Nanomaterials

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have made several breakthroughs in treating hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanomaterials, improving their properties to supplant carbon nanotubes in many applications. These inventors have greatly enhanced the processes of intercalation and...

Briefs: Materials

A “4D printing” method was developed for a smart gel that could lead to the development of living structures in human organs and tissues, soft robots, and targeted drug delivery.

Briefs: Energy

Researchers have created a material that consists of carefully structured molecules designed to be particularly electrochemically stable in order to prevent the battery from losing energy to unwanted reactions....

Briefs: Motion Control

Scientists around the world are working on new technologies for the nanofactories of the future, which one day could be used to analyze biochemical samples or produce active medical agents. The required...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Because of their high precision and speed, Delta robots are deployed in many industrial processes, including pick-and-place assemblies, machining, and welding. Delta...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

A technique was developed to prevent cross-coupling in systems where two or more linear electromechanical actuators (EMAs) are rigidly connected, and are in danger of...

Briefs: Software
Algorithms Analyze Images from Minimal Data

Smartphones and sensors have produced a treasure trove of pictures, many tagged with pertinent information identifying content. Using this vast database of cross-referenced images, convolutional neural networks and other machine learning methods have revolutionized the ability to quickly identify...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Autonomous Robotic Self-Righting

Robots are increasingly being used for various applications including search and rescue operations and combat situations. Unfortunately, during the performance of maneuvers, a robot may fall or tip over, preventing it from moving normally. Controlling the robot to successfully right itself can be a difficult and...

Briefs: Medical

In 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — an object is built layer-by-layer, allowing for the creation of structures that would be impossible to manufacture by...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Microphones, from those in smartphones to hearing aids, are built specifically to hear the human voice — humans can’t hear at levels higher than 20 kHz, and microphones max out at...

Briefs: Communications

Leaders of teams such as first responders must maintain situational awareness to effectively react, coordinate, and respond to circumstances that can often become hazardous. Effective...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
System and Method for Managing Autonomous Entities Through Apoptosis

This NASA innovation is a biologically inspired system management method designed to make sensor webs as well as other autonomous and autonomic systems more self-directing and self-managing. Based on the mechanisms of cell apoptosis, this method ensures safe and correct...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Axial Magnetic Flux Airflow Integrated Compressor-Generator-Motor Turbojet Design

Innovators at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a compressor-generator-motor turbojet design concept that integrates the generator with the aerodynamic blade structures of the compression section of turbomachinery. This reduces weight and...

Briefs: Communications

NASA Glenn’s cup cylindrical waveguide antenna (CCWA) is a short backfire microwave antenna capable of simultaneously supporting the transmission or reception of two distinct signals having opposite...

Briefs: Energy

By binding photosensitive dyes to common plastic membranes and adding water, chemists have made a new type of solar power generator. The device is similar to familiar silicon...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) have been developing a fiber optic sensing system (FOSS) that represents a major breakthrough in...

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